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Liam Dawson: ‘I’ve never experienced this type of pressure before’

• England debutant recovers from being hit on the head to make 66 not out
• ‘We want to finish this tour on a high and we’re in a fairly good position’


Liam Dawson

Trevor Bayliss has had precious little time to run the rule over county cricketers during his 18 months in charge of the England side and while this may change next summer, he is currently going on the words of his three fellow selectors and only very occasionally a personal hunch.

Liam Dawson, who is making a Test debut here in Chennai, represents a touch of the latter, having jumped the queue of domestic spinners such as Jack Leach and Ollie Rayner to join the India tour as Zafar Ansari’s injury replacement on the back of what Bayliss described as “having something about him.”Ostensibly, the Hampshire all‑rounder is in the side for his spin‑bowling – the facet of his game that brought 20 championship wickets last season – but his batting is his real forte. On his second day in Test cricket, having spent the first in the pavilion perhaps staring at the cap presented to him by Vic Marks, his unbeaten 66 that turned a potentially a dreadful end to a tough series for England into something resembling safety.

“It’s his game sense, he almost knows what’s going to happen before it happens,” is another previously uttered Bayliss-ism, which, two balls into Dawson’s innings, did not appear to be the case when he was clonked on the helmet by a bouncer from Ishant Sharma that was slightly less welcoming to the Test club, you would hope, than the Observer correspondent had been.

“It was a good bouncer and I tried to watch it as hard as I could but that’s part of the game and something you get wrong occasionally” said Dawson. “I’ve watched a lot of international cricket and knew the bouncer was going to be a factor. The first 20 balls were probably the most nervous I’ve ever been.”Dawson’s confidence grew thereafter, however, showing the bit of mongrel that caught the eye of the England head coach during a net session for the Lions in Dubai last winter when staring down Virat Kohli after the India captain struck him with a poorly aimed throw as well as more than a bit of skill in his handling of the world’s No1 spinner in Ravi Ashwin.

“I’ve never experienced this type of pressure before. but I think I’m dealing with it pretty well. You make one Test debut and I was extremely excited and from a team point of view we said we wanted to finish this tour on a high and we’re in a fairly good position.”While the runs will do plenty for the 26-year-old, you suspect only a cascade of wickets will further his chances of a second cap next summer given England’s current glut of all-rounders. Moeen Ali has the spin-bowling slot among these sewn up at present, albeit his 146 here has done plenty to help him nail down the top-five batting spot he so craves. “It’s tough when you haven’t got a consistent number,” he said. “Wherever I’m needed in the team I’ll bat. I was batting at five at the start of the tour but now I’m batting in four. It’s a good place to bat but I’d rather bat five. Hopefully, one day I’ll have a settled spot.”

Despite an exasperating end – picking out the man on the hook following a score of earlier near-misses – Moeen’s innings, the bulk of which came on the first day, was a pretty handy nudge to the management on this front, even when considering a pitch that thus far looked flat as a roti.

It would be mean to criticise the surface though, with the match representing something of a triumph for the groundstaff given the devastation across Chennai that was wreaked by Monday’s cyclone; the hot coals they used to dry out the strip took any life out of it but it is better than no match at all.

If there is one legitimate grumble it would be with the rows of empty seats on a day when a number of supporters who walked up were greeted with sold-out signs at the ticket office. There were few answers from the officials, however, who pointed to local clubs not taking up their allocations as they shrugged.

Test cricket in India has received a jolt through the dynamism of Kohli’s No1 side but it is not in a position to turn people away just yet.



The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not reflect the opinions, viewpoints and editorial policies of World Views Pakistan